Every week this season, we’ll be chatting with our opponent’s SBN blog to gain some inside information on our forthcoming opponent. This week, we’re chatting with Robert Steeg of the USF blog The Daily Stampede. So make sure and head over there and say hello and hit them up for any more questions you may have about traveling to this away game.
1) I’m going to go ahead and confess to not really ever having watched a USF game, so pardon my elementary questions today. I know Charlie Strong has had a lot of success in his tenure so far, so what are the expectations for the team on the season? Are you expecting them to go 3-0 against GT, Houston, and UCF? Is a NY6 bowl feasible?
This season has a mixed bag of expectations, Strong has to replace the best player in school history with Quinton Flowers going to the NFL, a defensive line that had 3 players end up on NFL Roster, and a Kicker/Punter/Long Snapper in a unit that was relatively consistent. Although they brought in former 5 star QB and Alabama/Arizona State transfer Blake Barnett, expectations were set at “we should win most of our games”. Our season hinges on the success of our offense, reloading on defense, and not blowing games on special teams and so far things have looked good after week 1.
As far as 3-0 against GT, Houston, and UCF, I think most of our fanbase would be happy with one of those ending up as a win. The talent and skill is there for us, but we have a lot of youth on our team this year and they will all get valuable experience this season. NY6 is probably not feasible unless an undefeated run happens and a few other teams like Boise State, Hawaii, and Fresno State struggle.
2) Most Tech fans would tell you that this game scares us more than our following week game against Pitt. One of the reasons is that from looking at the box score from Saturday’s Elon win, Barnett put together an incredible game at QB - are you expecting this level of play to be sustainable for the season, or was Elon just that overmatched?
Barnett could possibly be the best true passer that USF has ever had. He has a strong arm and is able to hit the deep ball fluidly and throw accurate passes within 15 yards. Although Elon was thoroughly outmatched, I feel as though Barnett will be able to sustain this for the season, with probably a hiccup game or two. He seems to have a pretty good feel for the veer and shoot offense even though he has only been around it for a few months.
3) What should we expect from the USF defense on Saturday against the flexbone? Who are some players on that side of the ball for us to keep an eye out for?
USF has seen very limited action against teams who run the flexbone/triple option. We are 1-1 against Navy since joining the American, and had pretty strong success at containing it both times (although the score from 2015 might say otherwise). According to Strong, our defense has been preparing for this game since the spring (and for good reason). One thing that Strong and DC Brian Jean-Mary are good at is mid game adjustments. We saw it against our rival [UCF] last year, where we replaced our beloved (but sluggish) MLB Auggie Sanchez for a much faster Linebacker who was able to keep up with the speed from UCF. I expect that same linebacker, Khalid McGee, to have a strong game, as well as Safety Bentlee Sanders and Greg Reaves. All three of those players possess great speed and fly around the football field. Our D-line rotation is fairly deep and most, if not all, should see playing time on saturday as well.
4) If USF wins double digit games again this season, will they be able to hold on to Charlie Strong? How much of the recent success in on Strong verses recruiting and development by Taggart?
There is one thing preventing Strong for returning next year and that’s money. The amount of money owed to Strong next year basically doubles as his buyout from Texas ends after this season. His assistant pool also increases and thus, we are less than optimistic that he will return. His time at Texas might scare a few potential schools away, but it’s going to be hard to afford him and all of his assistants next year.
5) For those of us coming as visitors to the game, where should we eat and drink before / after in the area?
There’s no shortage of great places to go in Tampa/St. Pete. Armature Works is a great place for a variety of things, as it’s a market that offers a whole lot of different types of food and drink. Visiting Historic Ybor City is a must do, especially with all the bars and places to eat. Colombia restaurant, located in Ybor is a must visit for Spanish food. For your drinking fix, reliving your college glory days can easily be done at SoHo (South Howard) with bars like MacDinton’s, Soho Saloon, and Yard of Ale.
6) And finally, how does this game go? Who wins and loses and why?
The million dollar question. I, myself, have done extensive research on the Veer and Shoot offense for USF this season, and the Flexbone for this game, and honestly after the first week of games, I have no clue. A lot of people are worried about our run defense as we gave up nearly 150 yards on the ground to an FCS opponent. However, most of those came when we were giving our starters a breather in the second half. Obviously GT’s offense looks improved and more consistent after last year, TaQuon seems like he has a better hold of the reads on run plays.
I think this game stays close for the most part, which does Tech no favors in a noon kick off with the hot south Florida sun beating over head. With speed and athleticism on both sides of the ball, this game will end up on a coin flip but Tech’s offense is hard to stop and we are still in a sort of transition year without Flowers. I’m going to go with Georgia Tech winning 48-42.
Thanks again to Robert of The Daily Stampede for taking the time to answer our questions and give us some extra insight into the Bulls this Saturday. We’ll see y’all in Tampa.